America has no fire drill for economic uncertainty. What is going to happen today, April 1st, in the middle of an unprecedented pandemic, when everyone's rent, mortgages, and bills are due? Read the rest
America has no fire drill for economic uncertainty. What is going to happen today, April 1st, in the middle of an unprecedented pandemic, when everyone's rent, mortgages, and bills are due? Read the rest
My friend Maureen Herman (former bassist for Babes in Toyland) is writing a book called "It's a Memoir, Motherfucker." Here's an excerpt in which she gives her account of living life with an invisible disability and how those who do not suffer can best support those in their lives who do. -- Mark
I think when the chasm between who you really are and who people think you are is too wide, that's where true despair lives. It makes you feel so literally alone, to feel you are the only one who knows you. Loneliness of being unknown, that is the dullest, greyest, flattest, and most overwhelming of voids a human can experience. Prolonged periods of that dehydrate your soul. They may be biochemical, delusional, or situational, or some combination thereof, but what I do know is that at some point, it is literal agony.
Short term gratification fills the gap. It gets you through. When people tell you how much you've accomplished, and what great things lie before you, it sounds like the teacher talking in the Charlie Brown cartoons. Blah blah blah. It means nothing. Some of us have minds live with no sense of the long game. So when people ask how someone could kill themselves when they had done such great things and had the world at their feet, I understand how they could. You don't take any of that into account. It's meaningless. Your only reality is how you feel right now, and when it is that deafening void, and no drink or drug or relationship or amount of positive attention can mute it, it feels permanent. Read the rest
People make mistakes. They commit crimes. Sometimes they pull their erect dick out and start masturbating in front of female colleagues. Louis C.K. recently performed for the first time since confirming he did exactly that to a number of women over a period of years. Was his return to the stage, as they say in comedy, “too soon?” Outside of legal recourse, how do we deal with perpetrators of sexual misdeeds, abuse, harassment, and assault in the long haul?
As the news of his return broke, I could almost hear women across the country face-palming themselves over the fact that he appeared unannounced and unexpectedly in front of an unsuspecting audience who had not given their consent. Social media became a biopsy of the strange cultural crossroads the #MeToo stories have brought us to. But this time there was more of a split across gender lines. The backlash about Louis’ comeback were mostly female voices. The support for him, feeling he’d already paid a fair price, were mostly male voices.
Comedian Michael Ian Black tweeted a message addressing the friction to his almost two million followers:
"The #MeToo movement is incredibly powerful and important and vital. One next step, among many steps, has to be figuring out a way for the men who are caught up in it to find redemption.”
Read the rest
The #metoo movement is incredibly powerful and important and vital. One next step, among many steps, has to be figuring out a way for the men who are caught up in it to find redemption.
Opioid overdoses now kill more Americans every year than guns, breast cancer, or car accidents. 20 million Americans suffer from addiction to alcohol, illicit, or prescription drugs. On the second anniversary of Prince’s death from fentanyl overdose last weekend, the President of the United States demonstrated a deep ignorance of this medical epidemic, calling someone he considers an alcoholic and addict a “drunk/drugged up loser.”
Days later we learn that Dr. Ronny Jackson, the physician Trump nominated to lead the country’s largest healthcare system, the Veterans Administration, is known to have a drinking problem and is nicknamed “The Candyman” because of his reputation for freely distributing controlled substances to White House staff. With 1 in 10 soldiers seen by the VA for problems with alcohol or drugs – the majority as an outgrowth of being treated for chronic pain – Jackson was a dangerously ignorant choice.
Both the president’s regressive drug policy and his impulsive social media outbursts are conflicting, misinformed, and poorly executed, so his recent post about addicts being “losers” must seem pedestrian to most. In the same tweet he also managed to insult a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and engage in thinly veiled witness tampering before taking off for a round of golf while his wife attended Barbara Bush’s funeral. Numbed and spotty outcries ensued, and we moved along to the next week’s insults. It became just more white noise.
Leadership and policy drive the public’s attitudes about addiction and these opinions have very real consequences in people’s lives, as it did for Prince. Read the rest
I met Jackie Fox of the Runaways in 2015 after I wrote an article on Boing Boing in response to her rape disclosure and the treatment it was getting in the press. Jackie was drugged and raped in front of a large group of people at a party. Jason Cherkis, an investigative reporter for Huffington Post, wrote an exhaustively researched piece about the rape, interviewed many witnesses, and outlined the complex reasons Jackie was coming forward 40 years later. Her story was not only rock solid--she had witnesses. Still, her former bandmate, Joan Jett, put out a statement essentially calling Jackie's rape part of a "bizarre relationship."
I was angry watching the public tide turn against Jackie after Joan's dismissive statement was released, especially as a fellow assault survivor. Around the same time, more Cosby women were coming forward, and I was disgusted with the default reaction of seeing women doubted, disparaged, and denigrated. I wrote the piece, Neil Gaiman tweeted it out, and people took note. And so, my friendship with Jackie Fox began. It was coincidental that I was also the bassist in an all-female band, Babes in Toyland, but it gave us a natural camaraderie.
So when Jackie invited me to go to the recent #MeTooMarch in Hollywood, I was honored to join her. The #MeToo movement had sprung up amid the Weinstein scandal after actress Alyssa Milano encouraged others to share their sexual abuse, assault, and harassment experiences with the hashtag #MeToo, and rightly credited Tarana Burke of Just BE Inc., Read the rest
We are all familiar with the marquee protests in American history: the 1963 March on Washington, the 1969 anti-Vietnam War protest, and the 2017 post-inaugural Women's March. This weekend in Los Angeles, the #MeTooMarch will be protesting the normalizing of rape culture. With the recent bizarre acceptance by many Republicans of Roy Moore, who has a well-sourced history of pedophilia, issue-responsive protests like this are growing more urgent, frequent, and necessary.
With all of this renewed activism in the U.S. and recent Democratic victories in off-year elections, it's important to remember and learn from what has worked in the past. Brittany Shoot wrote a great piece in Atlas Obscura on an often overlooked but highly impactful protest that involved no marching at all. The fact that the protestors were disabled –some physically, some mentally – didn't stop them from conducting the longest non-violent occupation of a federal building in United States history, the 504 Sit-In.
What they accomplished bettered millions of lives to this day. If you're interested in understanding what it takes to effect major changes in policy, or get inspired to do something, this well-written piece about the 26-day long sit-in is worth a few minutes of your time:
(Read Brittany Shoot's full article here)
Read the rest
The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 included the little-noticed Section 504, which was based on the 1964 Civil Rights Act and mandated integration of people with disabilities into mainstream institutions. But the language was broad, only noting that “no qualified individual with a disability should, only by reason of his or her disability, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”
Last week, I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices cried out in terror and were suddenly uninsurable. While tracking the Trumpcare vote (AHCA), I felt like Princess Leia, helplessly watching the Empire destroy her home planet. Yes, the Senate still has to vote on it, and no, I’m not saying that Republicans are evil. But for me and so many Americans, Obamacare (ACA) got rid of the terror and carnage of being denied or unable to afford healthcare coverage based on pre-existing conditions. Watching it dismantled was disturbing.
Obamacare also did away with the false separation of mental health from physical health. Trumpcare does the opposite, classifying mental health care as non-essential, meaning that states, employers, or insurers will decide if the 1 in 5 Americans who struggle with mental illness will be covered at all. May is Mental Health Awareness Month , so here’s one fact to be aware of:
“The World Health Organization determined that depression is presently the leading cause of disability worldwide, and is a major contributor to the overall global burden of disease.” - World Health Organization
That’s just ONE KIND of mental illness. How will Trumpcare affect you, your friends or family with mental health issues? Like this:
The House bill allows states to let health plans:Drop coverage of mental health and substance use (one of the essential health benefits). Charge people higher premiums if they have a pre-existing condition, like depression or anxiety. Create high-risk pools, which are another way of charging people with mental illness more money and providing less coverage. Read the rest
Not since the Reagan era cold war with Russia has apocalyptic awareness been so forefront in the public’s mind. Disturbing incidents ranging from nuclear football Facebook selfies to alarming North Korean military activity now accrue weekly. Sometimes hourly. What can one do besides scroll through Twitter before bedtime and let the news populate our nightmares?
The distractions and details are addictive: political murders via improv and a spray bottle, daily revelations of Russian infiltration in US elections and government, and today the president is yelling at Sweden. Tomorrow it might be Ireland. Who knows. We watch the global breakup like helpless children realizing that mom and dad are really getting a divorce. Right now, the sitting US president is not even welcome in the British Parliament, but he regularly tweets flattering sentiments to Russia. But there is a larger story that needs telling--and action.
Lost in the noise was the recent breakage of a mile-long stretch of West Antarctica, due to warmer ocean water. It was part of one of the largest glaciers within the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, which scientists predict will collapse in the next 100 years. NASA caught the images of the event earlier in the week, but the story broke just as Scott Pruitt was confirmed as head of the Environmental Protection Agency--making it seem as if the Earth did the planetary version of a spit take at the news. Timing aside, it was a big deal.
In the distraction of every new development, tweet, or outrage, it’s hard to get a bird’s eye view of what the hell is going on in the literal world. Read the rest
With 100 frames of incongruously playful observation connected only by authorship, wit, and uncanny brilliance, The Portable February is a Cliff’s Notes thesis on existence, told in line drawings and one-liners by author, poet, and musician David Berman. Randomly exposing the vaudevillian arc of history, Berman extracts the extraordinary from the ordinary. He brings a furied ennui to every moment, grabbing the reader like an LSD-dosed and recently-ousted college professor who hijacked a tourist bus, calmly calling out the sights and overlooked absurdities of American life armed with a keen wit, a soft spot for pop culture, and the occasional ax to grind.
Just flipping through this book, one might say, “This guy can’t even fucking draw,” but the crudeness of his visual accompaniment is intentional.
In this visual follow-up to his critically-acclaimed book of poetry, Actual Air, David Berman tasks himself with contemplating the missing socks in the laundry load of life. Able to portray human futility in one frame, as in “The Soul and its Shtick,” the book’s visual simplicity belies the complexity of thought, as in “Humbled by the Void,” while a casual humor defines another, like “Daytime Television.” In frames like “Irrational 15th Century Battle Scenes,” and “'We' stands for 'warn everybody,'” his playful love for humanity emerges, and in the sweet “All culture strives, folks,” you can take his beneficent observations to heart.
Berman’s inner and outer battles seep into the pages and the juxtaposition of impossibly insightful and wicked smart ideas hung on spare, but potent, frames is pure Berman. Read the rest
Via a Freedom of Information Act request, Yellowstone National Park recently reported the tragic details of an accident last summer, where a 23 year old man dissolved after an illegal attempt to bathe in Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone National Park. He had gone 200 yards past the legal tourism area with his sister, who was recording on her cell phone when the incident happened. Luckily, that video has not been released.
Though search and rescue was attempted, Deputy Chief Ranger Lorant Veress remarked, "in a very short order, there was a significant amount of dissolving" due to the churning, acidic water. The man was reaching down to test the temperature, with the intent to "hot pot," aka bathe in the steaming water, when he slipped and fell in.
Reports Wyoming's KURL news:
Search and rescue rangers who arrived later did find the victim's body in the pool, along with his wallet, and flip flops. But, a lightning storm stopped the recovery efforts. The next day, workers could not find any remains. Veress says the water was churning, and acidic.
He remarked, "In a very short order, there was a significant amount of dissolving"
Veress said the park posts warning signs for important reasons, "… because it is wild and it hasn't been overly altered by people to make things a whole lot safer, it's got dangers. And a place like Yellowstone which is set aside because of the incredible geothermal resources that are here, all the more so."
Yellowstone is meant to be wild and preserved as such, so the park posts warning signs for this very reason. Read the rest
As U.S. headlines bombard us with proof of how low humanity can go, here's a look at a happy, peaceful, and prosperous country -- The Netherlands -- to remind us that it is actually possible for the human race to get it right. If people want to change present circumstances through liberal ideals, it's helpful to look at a liberal, politically stable country with a strong and open economy. Also known as Holland, the country does not have the same history and culture that creates the inherent social and economic problems in the U.S., but it is clearly moving in the right direction -- forward.
It's a great destination for liberal ex-patriates looking for a place to live and work -- especially in the tech sector -- that already has its shit together, in case you really are now considering moving out of the country. Staying or going, it makes sense to see what a liberal society looks like and how it works.
We've compiled a list of facts about The Netherlands to show you what humans can do when they're not fighting en masse on Twitter:The Dutch government plans to ban the sales of petrol and diesel-powered cars in 2025 Healthiest country in the world for diet Keeps closing prisons due to a lack of prisoners First to legalize same-sex marriage Highest concentration of museums in the world Highest English-proficiency in the world where it is not first language Highest population density in Europe Home to more bikes than people Cycling in the Netherlands is the safest in the world Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport offers more direct flights than any airport in the world 83 percent of the population live in urban areas but there are few high rises Largely secular country: up to 40 percent of Dutch say they have no religion, 30 percent are Catholic, and 20 percent are Protestant. Read the rest
Disney just announced that Doc McStuffins, an animated show starring an African-American girl who fixes broken toys and wants to be a doctor, is renewed for its fifth season. Described as “Cheers for preschoolers,” its fans took to Twitter this summer wanting to know the show’s fate. The social media campaign was led by W. Kamau Bell, a self-described socio-political comedian and dad who hosts CNN’s United Shades of America. Bell tweeted today, "Doc McStuffins is one of the most important shows in the history of television.” Reports Variety:
Since the series debuted in 2012, it has won much admiration, particularly because it is difficult to find a female African-American protagonist who aspires to be a doctor in many mainstream cartoons. A group of African-American female physicians, inspired by the program, formed the Artemis Medical Society, an organization which has a membership of over 4700 women physicians of color from around the world. First Lady Michelle Obama guest-starred as herself in an episode.
Read the rest
“Doc McStuffins” won a Peabody Award in 2015 and NAACP Image Awards in 2015 and 2016 in the “Outstanding Children’s Program” category. Disney says the series averages 16 million views on the Disney Junior app, VOD and Hulu, and reaches 150 million viewers worldwide each quarter, and in the past year was ordered over 20 million times via set-top-box VOD.
We have a new leader in America. Known for his distinct regional accent and often seen wearing a baseball cap at rallies, he starred in a show on NBC, and holds strong opinions about guns and the NRA. He may not be the leader you saw coming, but you're going to see a lot more of him: Michael Moore. The documentary filmmaker shuns the activist label he is often given. In a recent LA Times interview Moore asserted, "I'm not an activist, I'm a citizen. It's redundant to say I'm an activist. We all should be active." Moore has been very active, and has made films that take on some of America's most complex and controversial topics -- globalization, gun violence, 9/11, our healthcare system, the economy, war, and most recently, Donald Trump, someone he did see coming. Unlike the Democrats.
Moore tried to warn the left in July, when he wrote a piece titled simply "5 Reasons Why Trump Will Win. In it, he did not mince words: "Go ahead and say the words, 'cause you'll be saying them for the next four years: 'PRESIDENT TRUMP.' Never in my life have I wanted to be proven wrong more than I do right now." With his midwestern directness and efficiency, Moore then proceeded to list how and why Donald Trump was going to win.
Liberals feel aimless and powerless, falling all over each other trying to figure out what happened. Like teenagers at a party that went off the rails, some are locked in the bathroom crying, some are fighting amongst themselves, others are telling everyone it's going to be fine, and some are standing on the kitchen table yelling, trying to restore order in futility. Read the rest
On Election Night, you went to bed crying, and this time, I couldn't fix it. Like half the country, you thought you would be going to bed with your candidate as the president-elect. I wiped away a big, globby tear from the end of your nose, proud of you for caring so deeply about your country. I said it was going to be OK. I explained that, "politics goes back and forth, and this year it just wasn't our turn. Remember when I was for Obama and you were for Hillary, and she lost the primary, but you ended up liking Obama?" Your thirteen year-old defiance broke through your tears, as you declared, "No, this is different!"
You then spouted off a litany of things I didn't know you thought much about:
"It's different because Donald Trump doesn't have the basic morals of everything our country stands for. He doesn't even have the morals of a normal Republican. It's not that the other side won. It's that the person who won is literally against half of the people in the country. He doesn't like Muslims, Mexicans, anyone who is LGBT, he definitely doesn't like women, or people of color. He doesn't like ME. It seems like he only likes people like himself -- white males. How can he be our president?"
He's our president because people voted for him and he won the election. I will be raising you under a Donald Trump presidency until you go to college in four years. Read the rest
Oh, just the 7th largest gathering of humans in history happened last week.
Five million of the most patient humans in the world -- Cubs fans -- descended on Chicago's lakefront last week to celebrate a victory that was against all odds. But win they did, ending the longest World Series drought in baseball history -- 108 years -- and the lifting of the Billy Goat Curse. Friday's event was the 7th largest get-together in human history, about a million shy of the 2015 papal visit to the Philippines. The rest of us can keep it simple and get a glimpse of the Cubs on The Tonight Show Monday. The event in Grant Park turned out to be a pretty tame party for Chicago, when you consider the things fans have done over the years to try to lift the curse.
But first, what is the Billy Goat Curse? In 1945, Billy Goat Tavern owner Billy Sianis and his goat were ejected from Wrigley Field during Game 4 of the Cubs first World Series since 1908. Apparently the goat's odor was offensive, Sianis was offended and enraged, and legend has it that he declared, "Them Cubs, they ain't gonna win no more." The Cubs lost the game that day and haven't even been a contender in another World Series, let alone champions, in the 108 years since. Until last week.Actual Things People Did -- and Ate -- To Lift the Curse
As the century passed without a win, younger generations sought to "reverse the curse." Read the rest
In keeping with Boing Boing’s mission of being a “directory of mostly wonderful things,” here’s a new video by Frank Sinatra’s bastard son, performing an updated version of The Dead Kennedys’ song "California Über Alles" while changing backstage. OK, it’s not the actual bastard son of Sinatra. It’s Toby Huss of TV’s Halt and Catch Fire, playing his alter ego Rudy Casoni, (who does claim to be the lounge singer's illegitimate son). Huss-as-Casoni references the current political circus before throwing some 2016 shade at Democratic California Governor Jerry Brown with some updated lyrics. The video offers us a brief respite from the 24-hour Trump-centric Republican bashing (deserving as it may be), using casual visual wit, some cameos by comedic actors like Kate Flannery and James Urbaniak of The Office, Boing Boing pal Mark Fite, and some pretty stunning Frank-channeling vocal work--especially on the breakneck-speed chorus mid-song.
When I asked Huss why he made the video, he answered as Casoni, saying, "This shitbird parade of a presidential election has been trying to murder me for months now. So I fought back the only way I know how: with booze. Plenty of booze. But then a song. And then some drunken singing. Then I got sick all over a good suit and fell asleep in a warm dumpster behind a nightclub humming a punk rock tune. That's the Casoni way, so shove it. I know that bum Jerry Brown is behind this turdshow anyway, so I'm voting for Liquor. Read the rest
With the cacophony of an election year ablaze with unparalleled drama being fought on the front lines of Twitter, we find ourselves slowing down and staring at it like a bad accident. The need for escapist relief is perhaps more dire than usual right now. This fall, if it's drama you crave, but the Hillary v. Trump show is driving you to near-suicide, then the AMC series Halt and Catch Fire is your new best friend. Returning for its third season on Tuesday, August 23rd with a two-hour premiere, you'll still get your fix of intriguing plot twists, flawed personalities, and high stakes, but without the partisan tantrums and pre-apocalyptic anxiety.
What the Hell is this Show About?
The show's title refers to the computing term (HCF), "Halt and Catch Fire," an early technical command that sends a computer into race condition, forcing all instructions to compete for superiority at once. Control of the computer could not be regained. The namesake series takes place in the personal computing boom of the 80s, when IBM was dictator, and before "website" was a word. Though HCF is categorized as a "workplace drama," you could say the same thing about Breaking Bad, and you'd be completely missing the point--and the thrill--of both shows.
To "break bad" is a colloquialism used in the American South meaning to challenge authority. Breaking Bad and HCF have three important things in common: obscure, nondescript titles that run the risk of losing potential viewers who need their plot summaries spoon-fed and hashtagged, a committed, forward-thinking home on AMC Networks, and the consistently visionary TV producer Melissa Bernstein. Read the rest